WORLD No 1 Lee Chong Wei, inspired by the presence of his coach Misbun Sidek, and veteran Wong Choong Hann powered their way into the semi-finals but it was the end of the road for back-up player Tan Chun Seang in the Yonex-Sunrise Malaysia Open Grand Prix at the Johor City Council Indoor Stadium yesterday.
Wong Mew Choo, after disastrous performances in the Singapore and Indonesia Opens, also kept the Malaysian flag flying in the women’s singles.
Chong Wei, gunning for back-to-back titles after winning the Indonesia Open last week, defeated Japan’s Kenichi Tago 21-9, 21-15 in 22 minutes.
It was by far Chong Wei’s most meaningful performance in front of his coach Misbun, who was seated court side for the first time in two months.
"My coach is back. I’m very happy and inspired by his presence. I missed him so much but now that he is back, I can concentrate on preparing for the World Championships," said Chong Wei.
Misbun, who took two months leave from coaching to attend to his sick wife, said he was rather nervous watching Chong Wei play after such a long time.
"Chong Wei was rather excited to have me around. I could feel his happiness. Now, the focus will be the world meet and I will get back to work to help Chong Wei," said Misbun.
Chong Wei will face Hong Kong’s Hu Yun, who thrashed Indonesia’s Andre Kurniawan Tedjono 21-6, 21-12, in the semi-final today.
This will be their second meeting this year. Chong Wei defeated Hu Yun in the recent Sudirman Cup.
Meanwhile, the 32-year-old Choong Hann turned on a powerful display of skill and precision to oust China’s junior Gao Huan 21-15, 21-10 for his maiden semi-final appearance this year.
The fitter Choong Hann dominated the match, outfoxing his opponent with his crafty court control.
"There is no pressure and I’m enjoying myself here. Young China players tend to rely on their powerful smashes and net play. I know their style well and I hope for another good result when I face Chen Long (China) tomorrow (today)," said Choong Hann.
Chen Long ended the gallant run of Chun Seang, by notching a 21-14, 12-21, 21-16 win in 45 minutes.
Meanwhile, Mew Choo held off a strong challenge from Singapore’s Xing Aiying before securing a 21-15, 21-17 win and she meets China’s Wang Xin, who upset second seed Saina Nehwal of India 21-14, 21-10, in today’s semi-final match.
"It’s a very important victory for me after the recent setbacks in Singapore and Indonesia. I’ve lost some of my skills since returning from my knee injury and my goal here is to regain my confidence before the world meet.
"I’m not setting any targets here but I hope for the best in the semi-finals. I’ve not met Wang Xin before but by watching her play, I need to be at my best tomorrow (today)," said Mew Choo.
The other semi-final pits top seed Pi Hongyan of France with China’s Wang Shixian.
Hongyan endured a storm against Germany’s Juliane Schenk before prevailing 21-19, 26-24 while Shixian defeated Singapore’s Fu Mingtian 21-19, 21-10.